Experiential therapy is an extremely rewarding range of holistic treatments that allow people in alcohol rehab centers to understand themselves better through engaging in a purposeful activity or connecting on an emotional level with animals. For many people attending inpatient or outpatient rehab, there are emotions and behaviors underlying their alcoholism that they are not able to access because they have become deeply internalized.

Experiential treatments introduce a completely new platform for emotional engagement and communication that challenges patients to explore, identify, recognize and deal with the internalized issues that have contributed to their alcoholism or drug abuse.

What Is Involved in an Experiential or Holistic Alcoholism Treatment Program?

Alcoholism is typically characterized by physical, mental and psychological symptoms that can be treated with holistic therapies simultaneously. Experiential therapy focuses on activities that engender greater self-awareness than may be achieved through other types of alcoholism treatment programs through patients getting involved in a variety of activities that also improve physical fitness, develops self-acceptance and importantly, provides a solid opportunity for patients to grow as people in sobriety.

Here we take a closer look at some of the experiential treatments available at Ranch Creek:

Garden Therapy

As human beings, we have been communing with nature since the dawn of time. There’s something about the whole creation and nurturing process that appeals to us at a very basic instinctive level and many people find gardening to be an extremely relaxing activity. Gardening is particularly useful in the treatment of addiction in that it heightens a person’s feelings of peace and tranquility, leading to a greater sense of well-being. Gardening is also an activity that patients can enjoy for years after they’ve left an alcohol treatment center, using the knowledge they’ve acquired as a tool for coping with any stressors they may face in their daily lives in recovery.

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Caring for animals brings out our deepest nurturing instincts and can unlock a whole range of emotions that prove useful in the treatment of alcoholism. When someone has had a prolonged dependence on alcohol, they often become a person who is no longer recognizable to those close to them. Alcoholics typically become unreliable and selfish, displaying erratic mood swings that are beyond their control and ultimately, they can become withdrawn from others and in many cases, develop depression.

Equine therapy is a highly effective way of achieving emotional growth from the connection they develop with a completely non-judgmental animal like a horse. Horses are pack animals and have developed a great intuitive sense of how those around them are feeling; they respond according to whatever emotional stimulus they receive. This makes anyone approaching a horse more aware of their emotional state and through the horse’s response; they can gain a better understanding of their own behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.


Yoga has tremendous benefits in addiction treatment as it addresses the physical and mental state at the same time, while also providing sound coping mechanisms to prevent relapse. Regular practice of yoga lowers blood pressure through better oxygenation of the body and although the poses and movements are gentle, they considerably improve flexibility and physical stamina. Yoga is a mindfulness practice that uses deep breathing methods together with combined stretching movements that bring about a meditational state while improving fitness.

Gong Sound Healing Therapy

There are several studies that have shown conclusively that the vibrations created by music offer a powerful means to heal the body and mind. Sound and vibration is a combination that literally resonates with us at a deeper level and can help to facilitate a sense of peace and tranquility, depending on the frequencies involved. Gong sound healing therapy helps patients in alcohol treatment centers by providing them with the tools to release tension and blocked energies to get more ‘in-tune’ with their emotions. Vibrations caused by musical sounds like that of a gong resonate at primordial frequencies that connect our physical bodies and consciousness to the structure of the world around us.